Paul Pohlman


Paul is a teacher and administrator at Poynter. He specializes in the areas of leadership and management.

Questions that can help newsroom managers offer better feedback

Feedback helps staff members grow. It keeps them on track. It catches missteps early. And it’s a source of satisfaction for those on the receiving end of it. Feedback practiced regularly is one of the best tools a boss can employ daily, periodically and as part of performance reviews and career discussions.

Below, I’ve listed some questions that managers can ask themselves to improve the quality and frequency of the feedback they give — both on a day-to-day basis and in the long term.

Day-to-day feedback

  • How do you seek information, clarify problems, explore alternatives and help staff members focus? Ask open-ended, non-judgmental questions when seeking clarification and understanding. When asking a staff member for alternatives or to focus, be willing to contribute your ideas to the conversation.
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Poynter On The Road

Experienced journalists and dedicated teachers, Poynter faculty offer expertise in the areas of leadership and management, online and multimedia, and core journalism values and skills. Depending on your needs, we’ll work to match you with the faculty member who can best meet your schedule and desire for learning.

For more information about costs or to inquire about inviting a Poynter faculty member to your location, please send an e-mail to Paul Pohlman,, with suggested dates and subject area.
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Team Building: Major Issues Facing Teams

Goals, purpose, and mission: What are the team’s goals? What is the team’s purpose and/or mission? How do the team’s goals mesh with the organization’s mission and goals?

Roles and responsibilities: Who will play what roles and be responsible for what tasks? How will team members be helped and held accountable for their responsibilities? How will the team take collective responsibility for its work?

Relationships: How will relationships be formed and maintained within the team? How will relationships be managed with individuals and groups outside the team? How will the team find the time to both form relationships and work on the tasks it undertakes?

Leadership: Who will lead the team? How will leadership roles be shared or rotated? Who will facilitate the team meetings?

Power and influence: Who has power and influence on the team? Read more


Descriptions of Four Leadership Styles*


Relies on rules and directives, preferably in writing.

Typical behavior:

Refers to decision-makers as “they.” Tends to be fair and impartial when functioning well. Uses an impersonal style. Knows “proper channels” and the “right way to get things done.”



Operates out of personal experience; has skills needed to perform work.

Typical behavior:

Feels there is no substitute for preparation and practice. Able to demonstrate how to perform a task. Tends to give directions based on “What I say.” Acts directly to get results under pressure. Tends to “keep a hand in the business,” sometimes unnecessarily.



Builds personal relationships with each staff member.

Typical behavior:

Tries to build trust. Sets mutual goals with each staff member. Encourages but also expresses disappointment when a person fails to meet goals. Read more


Coaching for Excellence

Coaching is a helping process that emerges from a personal relationship. The relationship is established between a person who is trying to solve a problem or develop a plan and one who is trying to facilitate these efforts.

The following skills or capacities are important for effective coaching:

LISTENING: The ability to hear the problem descriptively without evaluating or pre-judging.

EMPATHY: The ability to identify with the other points of view and to communicate that understanding.

FLEXIBLITY: The ability to adjust to the environment, terminology, and work habits of the other.

CONFIDENCE: The ability to communicate realistically high expectations of the other, and to encourage other’s potential for learning from experience.

AWARENESS: The ability to diagnose accurately what is “really going on,” and to be aware of one’s own values and habits they do not get in the way. Read more